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Hooker
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921 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey there, I'm Jason. I'm 25 and looking to get my first bike, and do a little traveling before I knuckle down and become a killjoy.

Bluntly - I don't know a thing about bikes. I've always loved the way they looked, smelled, sounded, all that.

I've been reading through a few sites and talking to a few unhelpful relatives and buddies, but came up with nothing yet. And this is something I really, really want to do - so help is extreeeemely appreciated.

1. Where do I learn how to ride a bike (I understand that an automatic bike is fairly uncommon- besides- I want to take the normal route, not necessarily the easiest one. I'm in a fairly large city - Omaha Nebraska. I always assumed most people learned how to ride from friends and family, but I just don't have that option.

2. What do I need to look for in a bike? As far as looks go, I've always liked just an average, stout bike. Honda made a few in the 80s that I liked a lot. Don't need any fancy chrome or name brands for my first bike. No fancy decorations, features, logos, or whatever. I'd also consider getting a much older bike (even with a removable(?) sidecar) like the ones from the old Indiana Jones movies).

3. How do I learn how to repair a bike? What do I look for as far as insurance goes? How do you prevent bike theft? I need to know EVERYTHING. I even looked up books, but found nothing too informative.

I'm looking to spend as little as possible (without getting an unreliable bike).

I'm a short guy, 5'6" or 5'7" so I'm going to need a bike that'll accommodate my height (I hopped on an old '78 BMW bike a friend had - and nearly toppled the thing over - she was 6'2" and it fit her perfectly).

I also have a slight fear of wrecking a bike that I'll try to get over by doing mainly city riding for the first month or two. Had a few spills on regular bicycles and a few ATVs as a kid that've left me a little gun shy.

I don't expect anyone to come on here and wipe my butt for me, but maybe a little mentoring and pointing in the right direction (further resources and such) would genuinely, honestly, truly be appreciated and help me open up a chapter of my life that I plan on never forgetting.

Once I'm proficient and my journey begins, I might even ride to your town and buy you a beer. Looking for any excuse to see new places. :)

Thanks a ton if anybody read all this. I know I'm green, but I hope I don't sound too needy or hopeless.
 

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Diabolus
Joined
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41 Posts
1. The safest way to learn how to ride a bike is through the MSF - Motorcycle Safety Foundation (http://www.msf-usa.org/). They offer a Basic Rider Course that is tailored to people who have never ridden before.

2. Craigslist and the local classified adds may be a great place to find a used bike. Are you looking for a sportbike or a cruiser? From my experience, I've found cruisers offer a lower seat height, which you may prefer.

3. Sorry, I cant help with motorcycle repair, I'm a computer geek, not a wrench head. You may want to ask in the Repair section of this forum.

Good luck, and welcome to the forum.
 

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Hooker
Joined
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921 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the welcome. I'm looking for a cruiser - I've never liked sportsbikes - too plastic looking, too high pitched, and just not "tough" overall in my opinion.
 

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Registered
Joined
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101 Posts
The MSF course is the best place to start. I know in PA it's provided free to anyone with a driver's license and motorcycle permit. They also provide both the bike and the helmet.
 

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Registered
Joined
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149 Posts
You've gotten some good responses; MSF course is definitely the way to go. As far as books, I've got two recommendations for you:

Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well
by David L. Hough

The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Maintenance
by Mark Zimmerman

The first, by Hough, is an excellent companion to the MSF course. My wife got it for me when I first signed up for the MSF. I read it cover to cover, twice, before the MSF course (and before I ever sat on a bike). I then read it again after the course. It'll help you with the written portion of the test and give you a feel for what you'll be learning in the course. It's no substitute for the course itself but I think it gave me a leg up going into it.

The second book is basically a How Motorcycles Operate For Dummies book. It covers everything from basic operation to repair. Each bike is different, there are different options (chain v. belt v. shaft drive) so it gives you good overview of what the differences are. It might be worth reading before you buy a bike to let you know what you might want to look for.

Once you buy a bike, make sure you buy the owners manual and the Clymers manual. Those two put together should allow you to begin maintenance work on your bike yourself. You won't become a mechanic over night but between the book I suggest, the manual and the Clymers you should have a good start. I knew nothing about bikes and I've done all the basic service now myself and have begun moving onto more complicated things. Don't buy a complete beater and expect to fix it up immediately; it takes time. I bought a used bike, which was in good shape but a little neglected to force me into doing maintenance but I could still ride it day one.
 

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Hooker
Joined
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921 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Excellent - I will get those books this month. Thank you so much.

Keep that advice coming in, everyone. I'm sure other newbies may glean some knowledge from this thread as well.

So the course everyone says to take - how do I find where it's given? What does it cost? Is it just a safety course, or does it actually teach you how to ride a bike (shifting, steering, etc etc etc)???
 

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Registered
Joined
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149 Posts
Oh, it teaches you everything. The price and format vary slightly from state to state but in every class they will: Provide you a motorcycle, helmet and usually gloves to learn with. Traditionally, they take one evening of classroom training and two days of range time sitting on a motorcycle. Day one is the absolute basics: clutch control, shifting, steering, braking. They assume you know nothing -- they literally start with how to turn the ignition key. Day two is the more interesting stuff: quick stops, swerving, emergency maneuvers and some basic tips for dealing with traffic. It's drill, drill, drill. At the end, in most states, you'll be administered a test and given a 30-day temporary license to ride. You can also *normally* take that to the DMV as a waiver for their road test.

Again, the details vary from state to state based on state laws. The course curriculum is identical and determined by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. For further details (and finding a class in your area), check out:

http://www.msf-usa.org/

Edit: I meant to say temporary license and not permit.
 

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Registered
Joined
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1,512 Posts
Hey there Jason and welcome!

Here's a link to an article about 10 Great Beginner bikes--there are a couple sportbikes listed, the rest cruisers or dual purpose. Check it out. http://motorcycles.about.com/od/howtostartridin1/tp/Ten-Beginner-Bikes.htm

There are lots of options for a guy 5'6" to 5'7"... I think most of the 250 cc class bikes would be fine; yes BMWs sit SUPER tall!! The Honda smaller cruisers should be great. You may even ride a 125 or 250 cc bike in the MSF course being recommended.

Even a Harley Heritage Softail (of course, probably too big for a beginner) is very doable for a 5'6" rider... I have a friend exactly that size who rides it like a pro!!
 

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Hooker
Joined
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921 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Yeah, lots of people have told me to look into the HD Fatboy. I do like the way it looks, but Harleys are so expensive. And from what I understand, they're partially costly because the name brand alone. Kinda tainted the Harley image, in my mind.

Guess I've got a lot to learn about the social aspect of biking, too.

Ok, so I need to read those books, take that course, and what else should I do to get prepared?
 
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